Is an E-2 Visa the Best Choice to Start a Small Business in California?

You’re in front of your computer, trying to find the best way to start a family business in the U.S. You can only do so much research from abroad, and you’re getting to the point where you need to come to America to begin planning. So which visa do you choose?

Does this sound familiar? If so, you should know that it may be possible to visit the U.S. and delay your long-term visa decision. Here are a few visa options to consider when starting up a new business:

  • Visa Waiver Program – If you want to visit California for a short time to scout locations for your small business, you may want to consider the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Nationals from participating VWP countries can enter the U.S. for up to 90 days for business or pleasure.
  • B visa – Some investors may not qualify for the VWP or wish to stay longer than 90 days. With a B visa, you can spend 6 months at a time in the U.S., but must return to your native country between each 6-month stay. You are also forbidden to work in the US under a B visa, so you will have to switch visa categories once you are ready to open your small business.
  • E-2 – The E-2 visa is commonly referred to as a small business visa. To qualify, you have to be from one of the qualifying U.S. treaty countries for an E-2 visa and invest a significant amount of capital into your business. This is a popular option because the visa can be renewed indefinitely and your spouse will also be able to work while in the U.S.

Is someone you know working on a business plan for a new U.S. enterprise? Send them a link to this article on Facebook or Google+ to make sure they’re aware of all of their visa options.

Vaughan de Kirby
California Immigration Attorney
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